Voluntary Blood Testing Program for PFAS

Blood Testing program for Per- and Poly- fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

General practice information

The Australian Government has announced that people who live or work, or have lived or worked, in the RAAF Base Tindal Investigation Area are eligible for a free blood test for Per- and Poly-fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). The Voluntary Blood Testing Program will run concurrently with an epidemiological study and free blood testing will be available to eligible individuals until 30 April 2019.

See the link to the Department of Health's PFAS webpage, which has a range of fact sheets to assist practices if a person presents wishing to obtain a free PFAS blood test.

A Statutory Declaration will be required from the individual seeking a blood test, or the parent or guardian of a minor, to confirm they are eligible for a free blood test under this program.

Australian general practitioners (GPs) who are seeing eligible patients outside of the Katherine region should contact NT PHN to arrange to be able to claim for these services. Once signed up as a provider of eligible consultations GPs can claim for services delivered under this program by downloading a claim form. Please contact PFAS@ntphn.org.au if you need more information.

Sonic Healthcare has been engaged by the Australian Government to conduct the blood testing for the Voluntary Blood Testing Program. Sonic Healthcare will provide eligible GP Practices with specially marked PFAS request forms that are pre-filled with the PFAS testing and billing requirements. Specific PFAS request forms are available from Sonic by emailing commercial.path@sonichealthcare.com or phoning 02 9855 5437. This form should be provided to eligible people seeking a blood test under the Voluntary Blood Testing Program once they have received their pre-test counselling.

All blood tests under the Voluntary Blood Testing Program must be done by Sonic Healthcare with the approved forms. The Australian Government will not reimburse the costs of blood tests performed by other pathology providers. Sonic will negotiate with each practice how blood collection is being facilitated where there is no local Sonic Healthcare Lab.

The specially marked request forms will include a section for the individual to consent to their blood sample and result being transferred to the ANU to be included in the epidemiological study, and to consent to the study team contacting them in the future.

Under the Voluntary Blood Testing Program, individual blood test results will be reported to the requesting GP through the practice’s usual channel for receiving pathology results. It is recommended that an individual’s blood test result be discussed with them in person so that an appropriate explanation of the results can be provided; including the limitations of PFAS blood testing in individuals.

Free mental health sessions are available

Incidents such as that which has occurred in Katherine can trigger a wide variety of responses over time including anger, anxiety, fear, sadness and confusion. There is no wrong or right way to respond to things like this and all these responses are perfectly normal when faced with major life stressors. It is important to remember though, that prolonged exposure to stress and these types of feelings associated with it can have a long-term negative affect on both your physical and mental health. We know that strong social connections and communities go a long way in supporting health and wellbeing in difficult times. When entire communities are affected by high levels of stress, individuals can feel isolated and unable to rely on their traditional supports due to not wanting to add to the stress of others. A combination of prolonged stress and isolation can result in declines in your physical and mental health and wellbeing.

NT PHN has contracted services to provide free and confidential counselling and mental health services specifically to support the needs of current and past residents and community members of the affected Katherine area. Eligible clients can access mental health and counselling sessions free of charge – see below under Resources for contracted mental health service providers. For clients residing outside of the Katherine region, please contact NT PHN at PFAS@ntphn.org.au and we can identify a registered mental health provider in your preferred location. These services are private and NT PHN does not collect any personal information regarding participants accessing these services other than basic DE identifiable, demographic data. Patients do not have to have had a blood test to access these free counselling sessions.

While we encourage eligible people to engage with their GP in the referral process to this service, community members are free to self-refer directly to our registered mental health providers. This service is available to anyone affected by the Katherine PFAS incident whether they currently live in the investigation area or not.

In recognition of the difficulty accessing formal psychology services in Katherine and the coverage of this gap by the skilled GPs of Katherine, as part of the commissioned services Gorge Health and Wurli Wurlinjang will also be able to provide two counselling sessions in additional to the pre and post blood test consultations. 

NT PHN does not receive, collect or collate any data about patients or their PFAS test results as part of this program .

Related Resources

Expert Health Panel for PFAS Final Report 
Prepopulated statutory declaration- Individuals or parent or guardian or a minor
Seminal papers on PFAS science for GPs – available soon

Department of Health PFAS fact sheets

PFAS contracted Mental Health Providers

PFAS GP Claim Form